Cardamom Substitute

Cardamom is a spice that adds a depth of flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.  If you run out of it or need to find a good cardamom substitute, read on to find ideas for an alternative.
Green cardamom pods in a small clay bowl.

Cardamom provides a unique flavor and depth to dishes that is hard to substitute.  I highly recommend picking some up from the store or ordering online as there is no perfect replacement. But, if you are in the middle of cooking and need a quick fix, you can find an alternative likely in your kitchen cabinet.

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About Cardamom

Cardamom is a fragrant spice that has floral, citrusy. mild spice and notes of sweet. Since it hits so many flavor notes it is definitely a complex spice. Cardamom is used as ground powder, seeds from a pod or even used as a whole spice.

Cardamom is in the ginger family.  It can provide warmth and sweet and can be used across both savory dishes and sweet dishes.  This spice provides great depth of flavor.

It is a spice used very often in Indian cuisine. It is very commonly used in Indian sweets. Also, it is found in many Indian spice blends such as chai masala powder or garam masala. Whole cardamom pods or whole seeds are used often in tadkas or tempering of oil to bring complex flavor to dishes.  

It even tastes great to make some iced cardamom coffee or coconut cardamom hot chocolate.

Types of Cardamom

Green cardamom pods in a small clay bowl.

Green Cardamom

Green cardamom is the most commonly used type of cardamom.  It is likely if you have ground cardamom powder at him it is derived from this variety. This floral spice has a light fragrance with notes of mild peppery spice, citrus and

It is a common spice used in Indian dishes. You can substitute black cardamom for savory dishes, but use a little less quantity as black cardamom has a stronger taste.

Black cardamom or badi elachi

Black Cardamom

Black cardamom is spice with smoky, earthy, peppery and floral notes.  The spice itself is a little larger than green cardamom pods. It’s strong smoky flavor is a key differentiator from green cardamom along with a stronger, nuttier taste.

Due to the difference in taste you will see this used more often for savory dishes.  These pods are used whole or smashed, often to temper oil in Indian cooking.  You can substitute green cardamom in a pinch.

White Cardamom (really just green cardamom that went through a bleaching process)

White cardamom is used less often.  Since it is really just green cardamom that has gone through a bleaching process it is similar to green cardamom.  It loses some of its flavor in the bleaching process so it not as strong flavor of cardamom as the other two.

Considerations when picking a good cardamom substitute

Type of dish

Sweet or savory: Understanding what flavors you are looking for in the dish can help you to pick a cardamom replacement. If you are making a sweet dish such as cardamom apple puff pastry, you may be looking for the warmth, but not so focused on the spicy flavor.  For a savory dish, you may look to add an extra little pinch of black pepper to mimic that cardamom flavor.

Form of spice

Ground or powder form, whole pods or seeds: For most baking dishes and drinks it is likely you are looking for a ground cardamom substitute.  Whereas, for Indian dishes in which you may use whole seeds or pods, it is important to understand that ground spices cannot be tempered in oil, so you will add your cardamom substitute to the recipe itself instead of tempering it in oil.

Type of cardamom

Green, black or white: As noted above, there are some differences in the flavor of each type.  So, while picking considering the best cardamom substitutes, you may want to account for the differences in taste. 

Cardamom Substitute Ideas

Since cardamom is widely used for its sweet, warm and spicy flavor, some of the best substitutes are a combination of spices that give those flavors.  A combination of ingredients such as allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, coriander seeds and cloves are examples of some options.  

Use the table below to find some ideas. 

Note, each ratio states the amount to substitute for 1 teaspoon of cardamom.  It is always good to start with a little less and work your way up so you don’t completely alter the taste you are looking to produce.

I’ve offered a variety of blends to help in a pinch, pick what you have readily available!

#BlendNotes
11 tsp cardamom seedsGrind in coffee grinder to make powder
2¼ tsp cinnamon + ¾ tsp allspiceGreat for sweet and savory dishes
3½ tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp gingerAdjust quantity of cinnamon based on dish you are making
4½ tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp nutmeg + pinch of black pepper or gingerNutmeg adds a floral element.  A pinch of black pepper or ginger gives a little heat.
5½ tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp ground clovesSweet and spicy
6¾ tsp apple pie spice + pinch of black pepperSweet and hint of spice
7¼ tsp start anise powder + ½ tsp  coriander + ¼ tsp gingerGood for Indian dishes
8½ tsp cumin powder + ½ tsp coriander powderSavory recipes

Substituting Green Cardamom for Black Cardamom

91:1 green cardamomAdd a pinch of smoked salt for the smoky flavor

Where to buy cardamom

Cardamom is found readily at the grocery store.  It is known to be an expensive spice.  If you use the spice often, you can find it at a good price at Indian grocery stores.

I always say, when you are in the middle of cooking the best option is what you have on hand in your spice cabinet.  Be ready to not be able to replicate cardamom exactly since it has a distinctive flavor, but find a suitable substitute that gives you similar flavor notes!

Recipe

Green cardamom pods in a small clay bowl.

DIY Easy Cardamom Substitute Ideas

Shilpa Joshi
Cardamom is a spice that adds a depth of flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.  If you run out of it or need to find a good cardamom substitute, read on to find ideas for an alternative.
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 5 mins
Course indian spice
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 1 teaspoon
Calories 15 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 set measuring spoons

Ingredients
  

Top 3 Substitutes for 1 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder – See post for other substitute ideas and context

    #1

    • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
    • ¾ tsp allspice powder

    #2

    • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
    • ½ tsp ginger powder

    #3

    • ½ tsp cinnamon sweet
    • ½ tsp nutmeg floral
    • 1 pinch ginger powder or black pepper powder gives hint of heat

    Instructions
     

    • Measure out spices and mix together in a small bowl.
    • Use as a cardamom replacement in your recipe.

    Notes

    Read post for 8 cardamom substitute ideas in case you don’t have the above listed spices in your cabinet and also for more context on the type to use.
    Note, each ratio states the amount to substitute for 1 teaspoon of cardamom.  It is always good to start with a little less and work your way up so you don’t completely alter the taste you are looking to produce.
    I always say, when you are in the middle of cooking the best option is what you have on hand in your spice cabinet.  Be ready to not be able to replicate cardamom exactly since it has a distinctive flavor, but find a suitable substitute that gives you similar flavor notes!

    Nutrition

    Calories: 15kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 27mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 9IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
    Keyword cardamom seeds to powder, cardamom substitute
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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